The term “social justice” is defined as the pursuit of creating a society that respects human rights, extends equal opportunity, and builds a more just society.
Because of its overarching definitions, it can be a part of almost any career, job, or sector. The variety of careers you can choose from is tremendous including: ensuring the rights of women abroad, working as a teacher, developing green technologies, or responding to medical emergencies. More generally it involves having a clear vision. Think about what causes/issues you are passionate about and interested in. Then couple that vision with your skills and talents to create a change in your community or the world.
Below, you will find information to help you explore careers and jobs incorporating social justice with your interests.
Do I have to go into the not-for-profit/public sector to be involved in social justice?
No. Social justice can be a part of almost any job in any sector. Many for-profit companies work to leverage their products, employees, and profits to better their community or the world. Some companies go even further and are social entrepreneurs that work to better the world using market-based approaches. You can read some features on social entrepreneurs here.
Can I develop competitive professional skills if I work in the not-for-profit sector?
Yes. Those who work in not-for-profits sector will gain many skills that will keep them professionally competitive with those who go into the for-profit sector. While many not-for-profits work with smaller budgets than companies in the private sector, it allows those in not-for-profits to gain experience working with a more diverse portfolio of responsibilities. A breakdown of reasons to work for the private sector or not-for-profit sector is linked here.
Can I switch jobs/careers/sectors while working for social justice?
Yes. Many people who pursue social justice often have specific issues or causes that are important to them. For example, working to create a more environmentally-friendly world may be your goal. In the for-profit sector you could work for a company that designs and manufactures solar panels or a consulting firm focused on improving the energy efficiency for their clients’ buildings. In the not-for-profit sector you could work to educate youth about environmental issues, or help develop sustainable farming practices with South American farmers. Finally, in the public sector it could mean crafting legislation to ensure clean water, or researching the methods to reduce pollutants and toxins. While certain skills may be job-specific, others are easily transferrable between jobs and the experience you accumulate working with a specific issue or set of issues will help make you competitive between sectors.
Why should I consider working in a career for social justice?
If bettering your community or world, or working for the advancement of a certain cause or issue is important to you, then you should consider incorporating social justice in your career.
According to research done by Srikumar Rao, a professor at the London Business School, the average American spends 90,000 hours of their lifetime working. The research shows those who find “conviction paired with feelings of recognition, pride and trust in their employer” are overall happier at work, more productive, and have a higher quality of life than those who don’t.
So find what is important to you and give your job/career the meaning that you want it to have.